When I first started blogging in 2006, I had no idea where to start.
I created this list of best blogging tools & resources for beginners who want the fast track to success.
These blogging tools will help you work faster, write better, and earn more money.
Blogging is a business that incurs expenses such as domain registration, hosting, themes, etc. Don’t waste your time messing around with unproven tools.
My goal is to give you everything you need to start a blog and earn a profitable living.
This blog is currently using the Astra theme. It’s free and high customizable with an Pro version that offers more features.
Choosing a good theme is important to boost Google search engine traffic and keep visitors happy by improving Core Web Vitals.
I prefer lightweight themes with less bloat and fewer features. Here are some other themes I like:
Managed WordPress hosting is a must for serious bloggers. I use Rocket.net’s Business Plan for $100 per month and all my sites load super fast.
If you are just starting out then take a look at Rocket.net’s Starter package for $30 per month.
Why pay more and avoid cheap $5 shared web hosting? Shared web hosting is a nightmare that will keep you up at night and make you lose sleep.
Shared web hosting experiences a lot of downtime plus your site loads extremely slow in my opinion.
Treat your blog as an investment and go with a managed WordPress host that offers free enterprise CDN, site migrations, 24/7 support, etc.
Google Adsense is a good choice for beginners and it’s easy to get accepted.
If your blog gets under 50k visits per month then start out with Adsense Auto Ads and try a few manual placements.
Vignette Ads pay the most money but they can be intrusive pop ups that annoy your visitors. Anchor ads perform well too but test this for yourself.
I don’t recommend Ezoic because it slows down your blog to a slow crawl and creates too many HTTP requests.
Once you get over 50k visitors then apply to Mediavine or Adthrive for higher RPMs.
There are good and bad WordPress plugins out there. My first tip is to avoid adding plugins at random. Each and every plugin should provide a better experience for your readers.
When you install a new plugin, your blog makes more HTTP requests and gets larger in kb size. Add plugins with caution because many free WordPress plugins can destroy your traffic.
Here’s a list of plugins that I’ve personall tested and highly recommend:
- Akismet: Helps to reduce blog comment spam
- Attachment Pages Redirect: Redirect attachment pages to the parent URL (Yoast does this for you too)
- SEO Framework: A lightweight SEO plugin alternative to Yoast and RankMatch
- TablePress: Allows you to import data from Google Docs to create tables. WordPress has a table feature within Gutenberg so just use that if you need something simple.
Canva is a free design tool for creating a logo. You can also outsource your logo design on Fiverr or Upwork.
Images are important because every blog post needs a featured image for social media sharing optimization. You don’t need to fill your blog with too many images because it slows down your site speed.
However, an image is worth a thousand words and will help your blog get more traffic.
Here’s a few resources for finding images:
Keyword Research helps you discover what people are searching for in search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Organic search engine traffic is free and 100% passive so doing proper keyword research is vital to your blog’s success.
Here is a list of handy keyword research tools:
If you’re on a tight budget then sign up for Ahrefs Webmaster Tools to see which organic keywords are sending you traffic.
SEMrush offers 10 free searches per day so you can log in daily and find some keywords for free.
UberSuggest is a cheaper alternative that costs $12 per month for the lowest plan. You can purchase a lifetime subscription for $120. The data isn’t as accurate as Ahrefs or SEMrush but it does provide enough info to justify the price.
If you want the best option then go with Ahrefs. It’s $99 per month and gives you enough tons of keyword ideas that you would have never thought about.
SEMrush is $120 per month and has a lot more bells and whistles. I use them both regularly.
I use Paypal to invoice clients for things such as sponsored guest posts and ad buys.
CashApp is another alternative if you live in the United States. If you sell products or services on your blog then Woocommerce can accept payments via Stripe.
Blog Traffic Analytics
Google Analytics is the most popular option used by most bloggers. The problem is the default Analytics.js 48kb and adds extra weight to your site code. Google Tag manager will also add additional code and make your site process more HTTP requests.
I recommend the Minimal Google Analytics Snipet if you only want to track basic stats in GA. Perfmatters offers this option as well. It’s 2kb and extremely lightweight.
Don’t want Google to place cookies on your blog and use your data? Try some of these Google Analytics alternatives:
- Jetpack Site Stats (free)
Writing, Spelling, and Grammar
Grammarly is a good option for picking up spelling errors and typos. Gutenberg has a spell check option within your WordPress post and will turn a potential typo to the color “red”.
At some point, you need to collect emails to build a mailing list for marketing purposes. You can send out a regular newsletter or promote products and services to your subscribers. An autoresponder will automatically send out prewritten messages to your subscribers. This is a great way to build passive income while you sleep.
Here’s a list of good email list building tools:
- Newsletter Plugin (free)
- Mailpoet (free)
- Convertkit (paid)
- Substack (free)
I’m using Newsletter Plugin on this site because it’s free and easy to setup.
Mailpoet offers a free plan up to 1,000 subscribers but you must pay as your blog email list gets better.
If want a better paid option then go with ConvertKit. The downside is that it’s pretty expensive but you can do so much more with your data.
If you want to offer a paid newsletter and collect subscribers for free then give Substack a try. The downside is that your emails will get published on the Substack subdomain but it’s a sneaky tool for building high domain authority links!
Studying other successful bloggers is a great way to learn from successful people and find out the best tips and strategies.
I read the following blogs on a regular basis to stay informed on driving traffic and monetization tactics:
Tarik Pierce is a 15 year WordPress veteran. He writes about blogging, SEO, and personal finance.